I’d received two standing tickets for Christopher Shannon‘s S/S 2012 show; the first show I would see on glorious menswear day. I only have two legs and while I know I’ve put on a few pounds, cure I thought two a little excessive. I also forgot to print either of them out, discount so I joined the queue for people with no tickets; the chancers’ queue, pilule you might call it. Mere moments before the show started we were allowed in, to find the BFC venue about 75% full. Pfft.
Christopher Shannon S/S 2012, illustrated by Naomi Law
I didn’t have much chance to do anything before the show started. I’m not sure what I’d do exactly, but it is nice to do a bit of people watching. There was no time for that this morning as no sooner had I got my camera out of my bag than the lights had fallen and the music started – this season a jazzed-up blend of indie tunes including the Happy Mondays. A sort of cardboard jungle had been constructed at the beginning of the catwalk, from which appeared Shannon’s first model. It seems his sports-luxe aesthetic is here to stay (and quite rightly so). A nylon knee-length coat with a crisp white shirt and black polka dot shorts soon had us all imagining what was to follow.
Next came more nylon jackets and windbreakers with shirt collars and hoods that juxtaposed sporty nylon with softer cottons in geometric shapes. A palette of slate, black and pastel blue seemed a little more A/W than S/S, but as the collection progressed bright tassels on the hems of tops and vibrant Madras patterns that split shirts in half provided a welcome burst of colour. Hasidic-inspired hairstyles complimented these influenced looks.
There was an enviable mix of formal wear and casual wear – grey marl joggers looked ace teamed with a navy shirt that had bright coloured panels towards the lower half. Sharp tailored shorts were given a slight dressing down by the aforementioned Madras tops.
Slick hair-dos, now becoming a Shannon trademark, made a glorious return. I wish I could do that with my barnet. Some models wore a selection of combs as headpieces, which was a little silly on reflection, but in the moment you can’t help being drawn into Shannon‘s mysterious but oh-so-stylish world.
I’m pleased to report that there’s still an element of chav to Christopher Shannon‘s collections, although this one did feel like his most grown-up to date, whilst still retaining his inimitable blend of sportswear and tribal influences. And long may it continue.
Following their super successful appearance at Barfly last week I made my way to a west London location to meet the Plastiscine girls. On the way, ailment I’m trying desperately to remember my French from school to impress them. On a trip to Paris with my friend Ruth, there was no way we would have got by without my “C” grade, I’m sure I can think of something amazingly French to say. I arrive and briefly they are all there, hugs and an ipod charger are exchanged and then drummer Ana and bass player Louise are whisked off back to Paris. I’m sure they are going to have to get used to this whisking about business. So, I was on a very bizarrely patterned couch (see photo above) with lead singer Katty and guitarist Marine. I thought I’d open with my French skills…
K: Cava merci, Vous parlez francais?
Non, that’s my limit
K: That’s good enough!
(Really?! That’s all that I could have come up with?! I should have revised more.)
You guys played Barfly last night, how do you find London crowds?
K: We really enjoyed the crowd yesterday because it was very busy, so we were really happy! We had a lot of friends in the crowd so they were dancing and jumping! It’s always good to have people reacting when you say something. In Paris people are so quiet, just at the back with their arms crossed and watching. They are interested, but they just don’t move. So it’s good to be here and have the crowd reacting.
There seemed to be a lot of French folks in the audience, That must have been nice?
K: Yeah, I was really surprised! When I asked, “Who is French tonight?” there were quite a lot of people shouting!
So, How did your story begin?
K: Marine and I met in high school when we were 15 or 16. We started the band because we watched lots of bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes. We loved them, they had so much energy onstage, they were young and we thought we want to do the same thing. So we started the band and a few months after we were already doing some gigs in bars in Paris. We actually learnt our instruments on stage because we just wanted to play! We didn’t care if we could play, all we wanted was to play and get on stage and get into it!
So, you began by doing covers?
K: When we started we did a few covers, but we were very interested in doing our own songs. We did some covers from The Strokes and other bands for a while then we started doing our own songs, thats what really interested us more rather than covers.
A lot of your influences are English so do you guys find it more natural to write in English?
K: Because all the songs we listen to are in English it is very natural to write in English, but sometimes we do write in French. We get direction from people saying we should say things this way because it’s a better way to say it in English. But yes, its natural because the music we like is English and American, we were never really into French bands.
I read that French radio have restrictions (a percentage of French radio has to be French songs)
K: Yeah, so its quite difficult for us to be on the radio in France because we may be French but we sing in English. We are not in the same category as big international bands like The Arctic Monkeys, But then we don’t sing in French so we don’t fit into that category either, so its quite difficult to be on the radio.
You worked on your album with top producer Butch Walker what was this like?
M: We went to Malibu to record the album and it was amazing, it was really beautiful and we were in the this big house all together and in the morning we would go to record together or go swimming. Everyday we got to work together! It was interesting because it was the first time we were working with someone American. When we are French we don’t know if we would get along or have the right words to express, so we had a really long talk with him and he said what he likes and we said what we like. Butch is really passionate about music.
He’s worked with a wide range of people from Katy Perry to Weezer and now you guys…
K: Yeah, he has done a lot of very big pop stars and he also works with acts because he really likes them, he’s done a lot of indie bands like Hot Hot Heat.
M: He was very honest, he said I do some stuff for money I do some stuff for passion and you are a passion for me.
K: He told us that from the first time he saw us playing on stage at Coachella he fell in love with us.
“Bitch” was on “Gossip Girl”, this must have been a massive deal for you?
K: I think we didn’t really realize when we did it! It was such a big thing to do! When we saw it on the internet were like “that’s weird!”. We watch the programme, we know the characters and the story so when we arrived we wanted to know what was happening! We were playing on stage at a ball so we couldn’t hear what the actors were saying! It was nice because all the actors came to us to say “hello” and Leighton Meester who plays Blair came up with our album and she wanted us to sign it!
How did this come about because it’s as if the song was written for “Gossip Girl”?
M: No, its on the album so they heard it on the album it was picked out because it worked really well. We recorded it back in February.
You have a great relationship with Nylon can you tell us a little more about this?
K: Marvin Scott Jarrett, the editor in chief at Nylon, he is so passionate about music and he always puts a lot of bands in the magazine. I think he wanted to launch a label and so he did it with Nylon, Nylon Records. We are the first band signed because he really liked us and I think he thought we were a good image for the magazine. He knew of us because in Paris fashion week we were on the cover of a magazine, from this he got in touch with our label, at the time which was Virgin, he contacted us we came to NYC to play at a party for the magazine. Then when we came back again he had the idea for the label and wanted to sign us.
So you spend a lot of time here and in NYC, would you ever relocate?
K: We would love to live in New York! We all love it there! I think people are amazing with us there because sometimes here when people see four girls on stage in a rock band it is weird for them, like there is something fake, something wrong with it, but in NYC they are just like that’s cool its just four girls rocking and they don’t care.
M: Also, I think that in NYC everybody is doing something interesting. We were only there for a few months we already made such good friends and there’s so much going on so much different music. I think it would be good for the band living in NYC for a bit, for inspiration.
K: You walk in the street and you just feel good there, I don’t know what it is. Its such a big city but you still feel safe.
I follow u guys on twitter and I noticed you had a meeting with Topshop today, You guys are obviously into your fashion, Who are your style icons?
K: Yeah we got it all myspace/facebook/twitter there is also a blog that Marine writes on.
M: Yeah we like fashion because we are girls. I love David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust period.
K: I love Debbie Harry, she’s got it all the music the style, she’s amazing!
The same thing could be said about these girls, they have the style, they have the music, they also seem to have it all. I glance and notice the smudge of a stamp on my hand from the entry last night, this reminds me that I have not even bothered to wash for our meeting today never mind attempting to dress nicely. I don’t think there is much point in trying around these girls though. They are naturally chic (I think it’s a French thing) with a playful grunge twist. I’m in love with them for the fact that they just decided to pick up interments to be onstage; from viewing them at The Barfly they all seem to be perfectly at home on this platform. These beauties armed with the energy and attitude they bring to their performances, their catchy rock/pop tracks and their effortless style is a winning combination for these pop/grunge goddesses to begin a French revolution.
Single “Barcelona” is available now and the album “About Love” is due out early 2010.